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The News Line: News END PFI NOW! – demands Unison as mass hospital closures threaten THREE London hospitals face the threat of immediate closure as a result of PFI-induced bankruptcy, it emerged yesterday.

In the first case of its kind, Health Secretary Lansley formally warned the South London Healthcare Trust that it is set to be declared bankrupt.

Lansley announced that administrators, who would have the authority to order the slashing of jobs and services and the dissolution of the Trust, are to be brought in within weeks.

The Trust was formed as a result of the merger of Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington, Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup, and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich.

When the three hospitals became one organisation they inherited a large Private Finance Initiative (PFI) debt. Last year the Trust finished £69m in deficit on a turnover of £424m.

Rob Macey, GMB Senior Organiser said: ‘The decision to call in administrators is nothing short of disgraceful.

‘If the Trust is dissolved there will be devastating consequences for both patients and staff.

‘This Trust has never had the opportunity to succeed due to the crippling historical debt inherited from a private sector finance deal.

‘It cannot be right that we have a government that is prepared to bail out the banks but not our NHS.

‘GMB is therefore calling on the government to bail out this Trust to give it a chance to succeed.’

Unison Regional Organiser for the Trust, Carol Shorter, said: ‘PFI is no longer relevant or effective, and South London Healthcare Trust is proof that there should now be an end to the scheme.’

Christina McAnea, Unison Head of Health, said: ‘South London Healthcare Trust is not the first and won’t be the last to be burdened with rip-off PFI deals.

‘Instead of putting the Trust into “administration” the government should prioritise renegotiating or ending this PFI deal.

‘The private sector have got fat on the profits from these deals and taxpayers and patients are paying the price.

‘This government is gearing up to allow more private companies into our NHS and yet the result is clear – profits before patients. It’s time to end these PFIs now.’

Mike Farrar, head of the NHS Confederation, which represents trust bosses, said: ‘We welcome this decision. The NHS can’t go on with short-term fixes to financial problems.

‘That might mean some tough decisions, but hopefully will deliver financial sustainability in the long term.’

There are another 20 trusts that the government has made known it considers ‘financially unsustainable’.

These are: Newham University Hospital, Barking, Havering and Redbridge, North Cumbria Hospital, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare, Epsom and St Helier Hospitals, Trafford Healthcare, Scarborough and North East Yorkshire, Winchester and Eastleigh, George Eliot Hospital, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford Learning Disability Trust, Whipps Cross Hospital, North Middlesex Hospital, Ealing Hospital, Hinchingbrooke Hospital, North West London Hospitals, Weston Area Health, Great Western Ambulance Service, Dartford and Gravesham, and Suffolk Mental Health Partnership.
 
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